Americans of all political beliefs are outraged by the pictures and stories of parents and children being separated at the border, especially with the camps set up to house the children. Attorney General Sessions announced the new policy and enforcement emphasis back in April 2018, specifically warning that families would be separated at the border. Secretary of Homeland Security Nielsen reinforced this policy in May 2018. Chief of Staff Kelly stated, along with others in the administration, that this separation policy was a strong deterrent to illegal immigration. Senior White House Policy Adviser Miller recently stated this policy was an easy decision. Even the queen of alternate facts, Kellyanne Conway, referred to this as administration policy. President Trump made the crackdown against immigration a cornerstone of his campaign and this is a big part of his plan. As proponent of the policy, he should explain his intent to the American people. Instead, he chooses to lie, cowardly and brazenly denying his own policy.
As disturbing and un-American as this policy is to so many people, what is more troublesome is the level of blatant dishonesty from President Trump. In multiple discussions with the media, he continually and falsely refers to this as the Democrats’ law. The most recent law on point was signed in 2008 by Republican President George W. Bush and does not require the family separation currently being conducted by the Trump administration. The Democrats briefly controlled government from 2008 to 2010. During that short time, Democrats did not pass a comprehensive immigration bill or enact a law requiring family separation. There is no such law in the U.S. Code, nor has the administration been able to identify one. Family separation is a Trump policy; thus, one he can easily end or change with the stroke of a pen or a phone call (but not a Tweet…).
Republicans, who have effectively controlled Congress for quite some time and the entire federal government since Trump’s election, have long been preventing legislative efforts to address immigration. These efforts could fix this issue as well as issues such as the “Dreamers.” Instead, they blocked bills during President Obama’s tenure and thus far refuse to allow votes on bills during President Trump’s tenure. Although there are clear bi-partisan majorities in both Houses of Congress that support reasonable and necessary immigration reform, Republican hardliners oppose those measures. Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan will not allow bi-partisan bills to pass, even with huge margins, over the objection of the hardliners. They would also prefer to do nothing at all on the pressing matter of immigration rather than have President Trump veto a bill, even one that passed with widespread support. They tactically forget that Congress is a co-equal branch of government in favor of partisan advancement.
Despite Republicans blocking votes on popular, necessary immigration bills, President Trump continues to fallaciously blame Democrats. To be fair, both parties share at least some blame for decades of failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Had they done so, we may not face the current crisis of family separation or demands for the grossly irresponsible and incredible expenditure on a giant, ineffective wall. Mexico was never going to pay – another persistent lie. Regardless of how we arrived at this point, it is clear Democrats stand ready to support reasonable comprehensive immigration reform. Democrats and moderate Republicans have negotiated several bills addressing these urgent matters, any of which would go a long way to solving our immigration crisis. Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan continue to refuse to allow votes on these bills, even though passage is all but guaranteed. It is clear they are not interested in solutions, just partisan politics and special interests.
Democrats are not the problem, despite the President’s baseless attacks. They have been working in a bi-partisan manner and trying to get something passed that will improve our immigration policy. Moderate Republicans are not the problem on this issue, although more need to speak out and oppose the ongoing zealotry and campaign of deceit. Republican extremists and President Trump are the obstacle to much-needed immigration reform and the continuing pattern of deception. President Trump threatens to veto any bill that does not include a fully funded wall as well as his other several demands. His statement evidences an unwillingness to compromise in any way. He already reneged on a deal to fix the Dreamers issue. Yet he ridiculously and childishly attacks the Democrats and tries to lay blame entirely on them.
McConnell and Ryan need to fulfill their responsibility and allow these bills to come to the floor for a vote. We must do this. Our future and security depend on it.